Wimbledon: Federer’s defence of his crown launches serenely

Defending champion Roger Federer cruised to a rapid straight-sets victory over Serbia's Dusan Lajovic on Centre Court on the opening day of Wimbledon 2018 (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire).
Defending champion Roger Federer cruised to a rapid straight-sets victory over Serbia's Dusan Lajovic on Centre Court on the opening day of Wimbledon 2018 (Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire).
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Roger Federer began his quest for a ninth Wimbledon title yesterday with a lightning-quick win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

Defending men’s champion Federer was first on Centre Court at 1pm, and an hour and 19 minutes later he had wrapped up a 6-1 6-3 6-4 victory against the world No 58.

The eight-time winner – sporting kit from a new sponsor – could probably get away without washing his new shirt, barely breaking into a sweat as he dispatched his Serbian opponent in double-quick time.

Federer was pushed to a tie-break in the opening set when he met the same player in the second round last year, but he needed just 20 minutes to hit the front this time around.

This was surely one of the shortest matches at the championships for the Swiss, who has embarked on his 20th Wimbledon campaign.

“I’m happy to be back at Wimbledon,” he added, after his 103rd men’s singles match, a Wimbledon record.

“I was really able to enjoy the match out there because I got off to a good start.

“When you get off to a good start in set one and two you’re able to just enjoy the moment more than when you’re struggling early on.

“There is always pressure and nerves when you go into a first round.”

Last year’s runner-up Marin Cilic was also a comfortable winner, beating Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-1 6-4 6-4.

The Croatian has designs on another run to the final after blisters put paid to his attempt to beat Federer 12 months ago.

“I’m looking at last year’s experience as a positive one and the one that I can learn from especially in my psychological approach to the match,” Cilic said.

“Psychologically I felt the atmosphere, I felt the pressure as well. I felt like I was dealing with it really, really nicely, and it gave me great confidence for this year coming back on grass.

“I feel it can give me a slight edge.”

Stan Wawrinka later came out on top in a heavyweight first-round contest with Grigor Dimitrov.

The former world No 3 is currently ranked 224th due to a prolonged absence through injury.

Wawrinka needed two operations on his left knee last year and has struggled for form since making his comeback in January.

But the Swiss was always going to be a dangerous floater in the main draw and so it proved as he beat sixth-seeded Bulgarian Dimitrov 1-6 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.

American Sam Querrey, a semi-finalist last year, fired 15 aces as he secured a 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory over Australian Jordan Thompson.

Milos Raonic won 11 games in a row on his way to beating Britain’s Liam Broady and ninth seed John Isner beat Germany’s Yannick Maden, also in straight sets.

Britain’s Cameron Norrie lost 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 to his former countryman Aljaz Bedene. Bedene has switched back to representing his native Slovenia after giving up his fight to play for Britain in the Davis Cup and knew the crowd would be against him this year.

In a closely-fought contest, Norrie secured the only break of serve in the final game of the opening set, but was edged out in two tie-breakers before Bedene clinched victory in the fourth.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens crashed out in the first round of the women’s singles after a straight-sets defeat to Donna Vekic.

Stephens, who was also the runner-up at the French Open last month, was downed 6-1 6-3 by the unseeded Croatian.

It was a tough draw for the fourth seed as Vekic is a threat on grass, but Stephens put in an erratic display.

Caroline Wozniacki safely navigated her way past Varvara Lepchenko.

The Danish No 2 seed was second on Centre Court, just 48 hours after winning the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

She had little trouble getting past the American, winning 6-0 6-3.

Six-time champion Venus Williams overcame a scare to beat Swede Johanna Larsson. Williams came back from a set down to win 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 6-1.

Karolina Pliskova also had a battle on her hands to get past British hopeful Harriet Dart.

The Czech, who will be eyeing her maiden grand slam success at SW19, needed three sets, triumphing 7-6 (7/2) 2-6 6-1.

Magdalena Rybarikova became the first seed to lose as she was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Sorana Cirstea while 22nd seed Anastasija Sevastova was ousted 6-1 2-6 6-4 by Camila Giorgi.

Former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka came through in straight sets against Ekaterina Alexandrova while 2015 quarter-finalist Madison Keys eased past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Serena Williams enjoyed a successful Wimbledon comeback with a gutsy win over Arantxa Rus. The seven-time champion did not play at SW19 in 2017 as she was pregnant with her daughter, but announced her return with a 7-5 6-3 win in breezy conditions on Court One.